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Last week I helped to install several bee hives with Dr. Pett, one of the professors from the entomology department here at MSU. I snapped some photos of the event and took a video documenting the event. Within the next couple of days we will put up a version with narration. I wanted to use Bloodbuzz Ohio as the soundtrack… but, you know.



I have been taking photographs like a fiend over the past couple of weeks here.

I am doing some work for my friend, Doug Mains over the past week or so. I am in Doug’s band and he is a good friend, so it is great to take pictures with him. Here are a couple I did. We took around 500 photos in one night and got a ton of good ones.

If anybody wants to have a photo session, let me know. I would love to start doing senior photos and engagement pictures etc. I would charge a reasonable fee to help with the purchase of photography supplies (read “new lenses”) and give unlimited access to a private flickr album from where you can order prints of just download the images. I looked at one photographer today who charged $60 for a one hour sitting in one location, plus $14 per 8×10 inch print or $400 for a CD with all the images. What I am offering is a steal. So if anybody is interested, let me know.

For more photos, check out my portfolio on flickr.


If interested, see more on my Flickr.


I recently upgraded my camera. I don’t have it yet, but the entire process has gotten me thinking about lots of things.

I bought a Nikon D90 from B&H Photo in New York City. These guys are champions of the photo business. I hear from one of my professors (and corroborated by Wikipedia) that it is owned and staffed by Hasidic Jews. I really want to visit sometime. Supposedly they serve over 11,000 people a day. If anyone is ever looking for a camera their website is the place to go.

My new camera is sitting on a truck in Ohio. I think it is amazing that by going to the UPS website and typing in a string of numbers you can see exactly where your purchase is. 5 years ago this was a novelty- I first experienced it when I bought my first computer and watched the FedEx webpage notify me when my 12″ iBook left the Foxconn factory in China, now it is expected, it is a right as a consumer. As soon as we press the big shiny PayPal button we expect the DHL elves to immediately move our box of goodies. The idea of the limbo of shipping is fascinating- when we shell out our hard earned money to someone we will never meet, see, talk too, the product becomes ours. It then seems to float through the ether to magically appear one day on your doorstep. The infrastructure and manpower is amazing. If anyone is up for a good read, Thomas L. Freidman wrote on the subject in The World is Flat. The impact that shipping and logistics companies have had on our world is immeasurable.   The thought is actually kind of scary- pay some guy $10 to carry your expensive purchase across the country. It is amazing anything gets anywhere.

In the mean time I have put my old camera up on Craigslist. If anyone hangs around me long enough they will know I have a love-hate relationship with Craigslist. It is Ebay for lazy people. The website is awesome, except when you are looking for anything specific. It is impossible to find anything unless you are looking for a generic old pickup truck or a trans am with an eagle painted on the hood sitting on blocks in some guy’s backyard.  I have been waiting patiently for months to see a D90 show up like I just bought. No. Such. Luck. But several months ago I found my dream drumset on there. I did have to drive three hours to get it, but I found it at a great price. You never know what you are going to find. Checking Craigslist can become a second hobby. If you are prone to being easily distracted, do not look at the missed connections section. So very funny and sad at the same time.

Almost as fun is selling things. There seem to be hordes of people A.) asking stupid questions about what you are selling or B.) asking stupid questions with no intention of buying. It can be frustrating, especially when you have something that is priced reasonably and described accurately. When you have written a price and stated in clear writing- “It is in functioning condition- works well” and you have three-score emails asking- “Does it work? I don’t want to pay you for it, will you take pocket lint?” It makes one very angry. Post with caution.

When I look on Facebook et cetera at people’s pictures for weddings and engagements I have seen a pattern develop. People associate a certain “look” with professional photography and they assume that whenever they see said “look” they are dealing with a pro. I like taking pictures. It’s true. Those who know me will be shocked. But 75% of the time I am cheating/slacking/being a bad photog and actually doing things that many purists would think are really dumb.

Let me show you how to make people think you are an amazing photographer even if you are actually bad in three easy steps.

1.) Take a decent photo.

This is the most important step. It does not have to be amazing, just decent.

(Tip- Take 100 photos of something. One is bound to turn out decent.)

Here is a decent photo of my family I took this last weekend. It is not the best of the set, but I chose a mediocre photo to prove my point.


We are family, my brother and my sister and me

I won’t get into how helpful a puppy or a tennis racket is in getting that “senior picture” look if so desired.

2.) Increase the saturation and contrast.

Use Picasa, iPhoto… even most cameras can do that.

Here it is… all contrasty and saturated! People love it when their faces are orange!


So green! James Cameron must have made it in a computer!

Step 3.) Add Vignette.

Nothing says professional like an amorphous black blob around the outside of the image!


Is it getting hazy in here?

Optional Step 4.)

Add the name of your fictitious photography studio to the corner. Preferably in a really obnoxious font. Papyrus, Comic Sans or Party will do.


I want my photos to have obnoxious watermarks on them. Then people will know I paid way too much to get photos taken!

I hope I don’t offend any one with this little bit of satire… but I don’t like it when photographers do this and charge people tons of money for photos.

I am just as guilty of this type of thing ( look at my flickr… I’m always adjusting contrast and saturation.)… But I am not charging money for my work. If I did… So help me. Vignettes are a last resort, not the first.

I love taking pictures of people. For some reason getting them caught on “film” is wonderful.

I love taking natural photos of people, the less “modely” they look the better.

I’m hoping to eventually do senior photos etc….


Here are two photos I have taken over the last couple of weeks that happen to look like they belong together, so I have placed them together here for your viewing enjoyment.




Check out the originals on Flickr.

I met a really cool dog in Plymouth the other day. It was an Irish Terrier. I want five.


It’s a blue bird!


_DSC0027, originally uploaded by MikeKates.

Practicing antiquating photos. I’m pretty happy with this one.

I can’t get away from birds.
They are so much fun to take pictures of.


Things I like

Flickr Photos